I know my writing (and, indeed, my life) is just “a drop in the ocean”, ‘but what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?’ (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas). On this day of global Climate Strike protests, I’d like to share one of my poems about sea level rise that has just been published in Liquidscapes by Art.Earth
SEA LEVEL RISE ON AN INTERACTIVE MAP
Start at sea level and hit the up arrow –
dark blue engulfs Great Yarmouth
and Poole, then London, awash
from Canvey Island to Canary Wharf.
Or navigate home, reckon
the sea’s surge
over Domesday farmland,
click by click
to the threshold of your house,
your tongue slipping
on names sunk in sediment
and brackish water.
Your home means nothing to that future
of eroding cliffs, toppling pylons,
tree stumps at low tide;
decaying roads to no-place.
The sea sends
harbinger gulls inland.
We tread the high paths.
At sixty metres, we’re islands of National Park.
Note: ‘Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C […]’ (IPCC Special Report, 2018) and could rise 0.5m-2m this century, depending on global emissions. See also: ‘What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted’, National Geographic, September 2013. The potential effects of global sea level change on coastal areas and communities can be seen on this interactive map: http://www.floodmap.net
Tim Hannigan and I discuss our relationships with the travel genre as practitioners and researchers in this podcast for the Centre for Travel Writing Studies.
You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/user-196724481
This episode features travel and history writer Tim Hannigan, and poet Aly Stoneman, both current Midlands4Cities-funded PhD students and postgraduate associates of the Centre for Travel Writing Studies at Nottingham Trent University.Tim and Aly talk about their own relationships with the travel genre – as practitioners and researchers – and discuss the ethical issues involved in writing about “elsewhere” and representing the travellee. They also take a look at the “new nature writing” and consider its connection to travel writing, and offer short readings from their own work.
I’m really looking forward to Nottingham Poetry Festival later this month 26 April – 5 May! Sue Dymoke has kindly invited me to take part in the following event:
Poetry and Place
TUESDAY 30 APRIL, 6.30PM – 8PM
Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, NG1 2DH
Alan Baker, Sue Dymoke and Aly Stoneman read poems about near and far-flung places and talk about the place of place in their poetry.
Pay on the door or through our website £3 including refreshments
If you are free and in Leicester on Friday morning, I’d love to see you. I’m looking forward to giving my second presentation at the fun, friendly and informative Leicester Travel Talks about La Gomera: ‘Hikers, Hippies and Horrible Histories –The Intriguing Island of La Gomera (Canary Islands)’ from 10.15-12 noon in the Satta Hashem Hall.
Leicester Adult Education College, 54 Belvoir St LE1 6QL. It’s £4.50 on the door. http://traveltalksleicester.co.uk
I’m taking part in a poetry event hosted by Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and Nottingham City of Literature to celebrate World Poetry Day on the 21st March.
World Poetry day, declared by UNESCO in 1999, is an occasion to honour poets and celebrate one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression. This year, UNESCO Cities of Literature Network has committed to promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal: Gender Equality, by creating a platform for women to express their ideas and experiences of gender issues. This year’s Nottingham City of Literature event will be supporting this goal by promoting and listening to the voices of 12 female poets, who will share poems reflecting on all stages and ages of being a woman.
The event will see the talented women poets performing at NTU’s Clifton Campus library, surrounded by the books that have nourished their writing. UNESCO aim to ‘build a better world with words’ and the decision to use the NTU library very much reflects their fundamental belief in libraries as places to foster literacy and education. Many of the poets are students or alumni of our MA in Creative Writing and PhD candidates who contribute to the rich literary research culture of the university. The performers include Becky Cullen, Panya Banjoko, Tuesday Shannon and Victoria Zoe, as well as NTU Writer in Residence Bridie Squires.
The event will be live streamed on the Nottingham City of Literature Facebook page, in a unique way of engaging new audiences with cultural events in the city. This will allow the poets of Nottingham to reach audiences who are unsure about attending live events, as well as poetry enthusiasts from further afield.
Join in via the Nottingham City of Literature Facebook page from 7pm on the 21st March,
I attended my first international conference in December, thanks to funding from Midlands3Cities, to present my creative and critical academic paper, ‘Coastal Change Poetics: Erosion and Loss on Britain’s East Coast’ as part of the event’s Creative Engagement programme. Wavescapes in the Anthropocene was organised by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, Croatia and featured academic, literary and artistic responses to the environmental ‘sea-change’ we are facing in the Anthropocene. Fortunately there were no parallel sessions, so I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions about which talks to attend, as they were all brilliant and inspiring! Plenary presenters included Adeline Johns-Putra (University of Surrey), whose research focuses on climate change fiction, and environmental writer Rebecca Giggs (Macquarie University) whose book Fathoms: The World in the Whale is due out in 2019. Some of the presentations really spoke to my own poetic engagement with sea-level rise, including Maud Canisius’ ‘Waterscape Walk: I could have been at the Beach right now’, where she filmed a 700km walk along the ‘line’ ‘that separates the Netherlands between high (safe) and low (under threat of drowning)’, and Simon Bradley and Ursula Troche’s ‘Reflections on repetition and contingency on the edge of the nuclear power industry’ which used poetry, text, imagery and found sound. Discussions arising from the presentations explored creative processes, the symbolic function of water, environmental and ecological issues, the emergence of sea-level rise as a central theme in climate change narratives, and much more.
The first two days of the conference were hosted in Split, before we travelled to Komiža village on the island of Vis by ferry, where events included a talk and guided walk by Prof. Joško Božanić (University of Split). The walk ended at Joško’s own house, where we were treated to risotto, homemade Orahovac – a delicious green walnut liqueur – and a poetry performance! We also attended the St Nicholas Day celebrations and boat burning, an ancient tradition where an old wooden boat is burned and the ashes are scattered on a new boat to bless it. It was lovely to return to Split twenty years after I first visited. Times are very different, but the Dalmatian Coast is as beautiful as I remember.
Attending ‘Wavescapes’ provided the opportunity to build on my professional development as a researcher and share my research into poetic responses to coastal change with academics, PGR’s and creative practitioners with similar research interests. It also helped me to build confidence in presenting at international events (it was a really friendly conference, creating a great sense of community) and has allowed me to network with researchers within my area of study who I would be unlikely to meet otherwise, since many are based in other countries. I’d like to thank Midlands3Cities for supporting my visit, Prof. Božanić for his immense hospitality, and the event’s organisers Dr. Eni Buljubašić and Asst. Prof. Simon Ryle from the University of Split for hosting such an amazing event and also for organising an opportunity for attendees to publish their papers in Cross-Cultural Studies Review (as a special thematic unit in early 2020 in the journal’s second volume). Cross-Cultural Studies Review is a new double blind peer review and open access journal which will be published jointly by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split.
Presenting at the event
Guided walk around Komiza
St Nicholas Day
St Nicholas Boat Burning
Time to relax…
The farewell is mine, as I have stepped down from my role as poetry editor at LeftLion Magazine after eight years. It was time (I am in the third year of my PhD) and I’m sure that the new poetry editor, Chris McLoughlin, will do a fantastic job of promoting the brilliant poetry scene in Nottingham. I’d like to thank editor Bridie Squires and all the Leftlion team for their support and friendship.
Here are a few of the interviews I did with national and local authors in 2018, published in Leftlion Magazine and LeftLion online (WriteLion):
Nancy Campbell (Canal Poet Laureate), May 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/may/canal-laureate-nancy-campbell/
Ioney Smallhorne (When We Speak: An Anthology of Black Writing), July 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/july/when-we-speak-poetry-anthology/
Miggy Angel, September 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/september/miggy-angel-extreme-violets/
Lytisha Tunbridge, October 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/october/poetry-lytisha-tunbridge-interview-nottingham/